September 29, 2010
Zero Rupee Note Battles Corruption in India
We've been hearing a lot about these Zero Rupee Notes, which Indian citizens have been handing to corrupt officials who demand bribes. They were created by a University of Maryland professor and distributed by the "corruption killer" NGO 5th Pillar.
I was at first skeptical that they could be effective, until I read this explanation of their success from The World Bank:
First, bribery is a crime in India punishable with jail time. Corrupt officials seldom encounter resistance by ordinary people that they become scared when people have the courage to show their zero rupee notes, effectively making a strong statement condemning bribery. In addition, officials want to keep their jobs and are fearful about setting off disciplinary proceedings, not to mention risking going to jail. More importantly, Anand believes that the success of the notes lies in the willingness of the people to use them. People are willing to stand up against the practice that has become so commonplace because they are no longer afraid: first, they have nothing to lose, and secondly, they know that this initiative is being backed up by an organization—that is, they are not alone in this fight.
That courageous citizens are taking a stand against widespread corruption is as inspirational as it is improbable. It's not often my faith in humanity gets even partially restored.
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